Tesla faces trial again over compensation dispute

The attorney asserted that Black employees were treated as inferior and given second-class status


On Monday, the San Francisco federal court decided the amount of compensation Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has to provide to a Black elevator operator. The trial is expected to run for five days, reported Reuters. A previous jury also concluded that the operator suffered severe racial harassment during his employment at the automaker’s primary assembly plant.

As reported by Reuters, during the opening statements, Owen Diaz’s attorney informed the jury that the racial slurs, threats, and graffiti that his client experienced were a result of a ‘plantation mentality’ at the Fremont, California factory. The attorney further asserted that Black employees were treated as inferior and given second-class status.

Diaz’s lawsuit also charged Tesla with inflicting emotional distress on him under California law, which forbids employers from allowing hostile work environments based on an individual’s race or other safeguarded characteristics.

Reportedly, Diaz also filed a lawsuit against the company alleging them of ignoring the frequent usage of racist slurs, as well as the presence of swastikas, racist caricatures, and derogatory words on walls and workstations, even after he reported it to managers in 2015.

In the previous year, a separate jury awarded Diaz a $137 million verdict in one of the largest workplace discrimination cases in the United States. However, a judge reduced the payout to $15 million. Diaz’s legal team declined the lower amount and instead chose to go through with a new trial to determine damages.

As per Reuters, Alex Spiro, an attorney representing Tesla, acknowledged that any racist behaviour at the plant was unacceptable. However, he implied that Diaz’s claims were exaggerated and lacked evidence to support his allegation of psychological harm that would merit financial compensation.

Hence, Diaz, along with multiple Fremont plant employees and managers, is now anticipated to testify during the current trial, similar to the previous one.

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